So much has been said, posted, and shared in the past week, and InvestigateWest must add our voice to both document this moment as journalists and bear witness as human beings. Americans George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor died because the systems created to protect citizens were not built for people with their skin color. They were not the first to die, and tragically, they will not be the last. We need to make change, now. Here are our promised next steps:
InvestigateWest will continue to provide strong investigative coverage of social justice stories about people of color, but rededicate ourselves to coverage more widely and frequently, and in conversation with the communities we cover.
InvestigateWest’s sustained in-depth coverage of a crisis of historic proportions in Washington state’s foster care system was instrumental in spurring six new state laws, including one setting up a new state agency to renew state efforts to help abused and neglected children and teenagers. The work also spurred $48 million in new state funding for the foster care system.
InvestigateWest focuses on the environment, public health and government accountability, producing deeply reported news stories while also exploring potential solutions. Our work has resulted in new laws in Washington to protect health care workers, the environment and foster kids, and was cited in 2017 by the Washington Post as influencing a wide-ranging new law in Oregon intended to promote justice for minorities.
I was on deadline, with all of the accompanying signs of the d-word: sweaty palms, clenched gut, my children watching too much television while I worked overtime, when I realized, with two days until the issue closed, I was facing an intractable roadblock. To ensure the accuracy of one sentence in the story, I would have to visit each federally recognized Native American tribe and Alaska Native community in the United States. That’s 567 tribes in nearly as many locations. The article, “Reckoning with the ‘Native Harvey Weinsteins,’” which will be published tomorrow, is about the unique circumstances that make it difficult for tribal members who experience sex discrimination in Indian Country to report and end abuse. Part of the issue is that as a nod to tribal sovereignty, Congress has exempted tribes from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the law that prohibits sex discrimination, including sexual harassment and assault, in the workplace. Tribes can of course write their own codes, filling this void with culturally appropriate laws that protect tribal employees and as part of my research I had tried to determine just how many tribes had done so.
As we’ve done for the last two years, InvestigateWest is again crowdfunding to support our 2017 Washington Statehouse Environmental News Project, offering in-depth coverage of the most critical environmental issues facing the Washington Legislature. If you donate today your gift will be doubled or tripled. Unlike Congress, our state legislature is debating environmental policies that may actually become law. Energy and a carbon tax. Toxics.
In this Seattle Channel recording of the Town Hall event spurred by InvestigateWest’s reporting, panelists Snohomish County Prosecutor Adam Cornell, Representative Ruth Kagi (D-Seattle), former Department of Social and Health Services employee Dee Wilson, advocacy lead and Washington State Parent Ally Committee/Children’s Home Society of Washington staffer Alise Hegle, and Foster Parents Association of Washington State Executive Director Mike Canfield discuss paths forward with moderator and Town Hall Program Director Katy Sewall.
Our series with EarthFix on portable classrooms called Inside the Box is featured on CBC’s Early’s Edition. Take a listen as Executive Director Robert McClure chats with host Rick Cluff and tells about the major health concerns associated with aging portables like air quality and the impact it has on learning outcomes.